Innovation That Matters

Prosthetic thumb

New Zealand designer pushes the prosthetic boundaries with new invention

Sport & Fitness

Innovative prosthetic makes picking up and gripping object easier.

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A prosthetic thumb has been invented by a New Zealand designer to help explore the subject of prosthetics further. More commonly recognised as a means to help those with disabilities, Dani Clode created the Third Thumb to see if natural abilities could be enhanced. It is a motorised digit that is controlled by sensors in the feet, which connect to the digit via bluetooth. The Third Thumb re-frames prosthetics, making it something that can enhance anyone’s movement and be an extension of the body, as opposed to a replacement for a limb or digit that is missing.

The Third Thumb allows users to pick things up easier, as it gives one hand opposing thumbs, making it easier to squeeze and hold a variety of objects. The creation won a Helen Hamlyn award, an accolade that recognises innovations orientated around people at the Royal College of Art.

Thus far, it has been tested on a variety of people, including a guitarist, a pianist and more. It’s proven to be easier to squeeze a lemon, allow a guitarist to play more complex chords, and thus create a catalyst for society to consider human extensions.

Unlike most inventions, which focuses on helping disabled people regain movement or a limb they are missing, this offers a new approach to prosthetics. In the UK, they have already looked at sprucing up prosthetic limbs for the younger generation, with Open Bionics offering superhero inspired hands for example. Whilst biomedics at Newcastle University have come up with a prosthetic hand that can adjust pressure and grip using AI. Could the Third Thumb however, be the breakthrough to changing perceptions of disability and ability?



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